28 August 2011

On the booming apology business

You would probably agree that to apologize for a misdeed is not a sign of weakness, rather the opposite: it shows your strength of character, your moral fiber and whatnot. Besides, when a timely apology helps to avert a long and bloody feud, it is practically a mandatory step.

I wouldn't go into the endless story of the Famous Turkey Apology. Suffice to say, that the endlessly delayed report of UN investigation of the Mavi Marmara incident isn't going to be very complimentary to Turkey and its role in the whole sorry business. And Turkey wants this apology as some sort of a compensation for its lost face. Bibi, on the other hand, instead of assuming a firm stance on the issue, zigged and zagged for almost a year before finally coming to rest at what (today) seems to be his final (?) position. No apology to Turkey, then. Fine.

But then a need for another apology arises. Terrorist attacks on the Egyptian border near Eilat kill eight and wound scores of Israelis, mostly civilians, that with a background of helpless and, frankly, traditional passivity of Egyptian police and army. Six Egyptian security officers, however, died in ensuing firefight in unclear circumstances. In a few hours, unclear circumstances notwithstanding, a rumor about IDF killing all six spread all over Egypt. And the Rage Boy took to the streets.

The anti-Israel protests erupted in Cairo last weekend following reports that six Egyptian security officers were killed by the IDF during fire exchanges with the terrorists who carried out the terror attack near Eilat last Thursday. The demonstrations were further inflamed by Israel Air Force strikes in Gaza.

The protesters burnt Israeli flags, and even threw fire crackers at the embassy building in a bid to burn an Israeli flag on a flagpole at the embassy. An Egyptian youth later climbed the building, took the Israeli flag down and became a national hero.
You would expect that after a terrorist attack on a neighbor that started on Egyptian territory and proceeded unimpeded, Egyptian rulers will behave at least quietly. Surely not. Following the current fashion, Egypt demanded an apology, adding a threat of recalling their ambassador in Israel (later denied), cutting the diplomatic ties etc. And the apology by our defense minister promptly followed, later to be denied or, at least, watered down by same minister. That without waiting for the results of the official joint investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of the Egyptian security officers. This apology was issued on August 20, less than two days after the attacks, while not all the victims were buried yet and without waiting for the results of the joint inquiry.

Barak's apology (or expression of regret, as he claimed later to save face, which in Hebrew really could sound the same אני מצטער), wasn't accepted by the Egyptian governing Rage Boy. On August 21 the Rage Boy decided that:
The Israeli decision to work with Egypt to investigate the killings is positive in appearance but does not fit with the weight of the incident and the state of Egyptians' outrage from the Israeli actions.
Of course, no mention of Egyptian inaction that allowed the attack to happen in the first place.

Interestingly, on the same day, August 23, Yediot published two articles: one Yes, apologize to Egypt and the second No apology to Egypt. Both make some interesting points and are a good read, so I shall quote only the concluding paragraphs. The first (do apologize) says:
A mishap happened. Egyptian soldiers were hurt and killed. We are not at fault, apparently. We are never at fault, so let’s apologize and get it over with. We have already apologized for smaller and greater things. So what? Oh, that national honor needed for the poets of glory and victory albums. Yet we want to live. The altar of the homeland can wait.
And the second (no apology):
Peace with Egypt is important; so are our ties with Turkey. Both Cairo and Turkey refer to their honor being trampled upon. Yet nobody talks about Israel’s national honor, which has turned into a floor mat. We need to be reminded that we too have national honor, and the time has come for our leaders to defend it as well.
While the official and unofficial Israel was divided on the Egyptian apology issue, the first report of the (joint? this point is unclear) investigation of the border incident came in (August 23, too). And the results are nothing less than a petard on which a less authoritarian government than that of Egypt would have been surely hoisted:
The IDF did everything in its power to prevent Egyptian troops from getting hurt in last Thursday's multiple terror attacks near Eilat, inquiries conducted by both the IDF and the Egyptian army showed. The IDF also found that at least three of the terrorists were Egyptian citizens.
The more you read this article, the more damning the gathered evidence becomes. And it gets quite clear who is it that needs to apologize. And another point kind of stands out:
Israel was aware of these facts last week, but decided against releasing them in order to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian army and to dodge a media dispute over the versions of the events.
So great are our sensitivity and sympathy to the Egypt's interim government internal issues that we are doing everything not to weaken its grip. And what are the results meanwhile? August 24 (after the report was published):
Egyptian daily al-Youm al-Saba'a reported Wednesday that Egyptian citizens have created groups on Facebook and other social networks calling for "a million-man protest" outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday. The protesters say the focus of the demonstration will be the demand to have the Israeli ambassador expelled from Egypt and Israel's embassy in the capital closed.
The Rage Boy is out and gaining strength, facts notwithstanding. And adding insult to injury (August 25):
Egypt forbade Israel from launching a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip following last week's terror attacks in the South, Egypt's envoy to the Palestinian territories said in an interview with Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Wednesday.
Yeah... Egypt forbade... if until now it wasn't clear that the Rage Boy is being fed and directed by some powers growing in the current Egyptian turmoil, I hope that this, at least, is becoming obvious. The addictive Arab habit of scapegoating the Jews and diverting attention from their internal issues was rarely so strongly accented.

So, to conclude: apology is still a positive habit. Whenever the fault is yours, I strongly recommend that you do your utmost and overcome your basic instinct of sinful pride. It is good to apologize, both to clear your conscience and to make friends. And, I shall never tire to repeat the Russian proverb: A bad peace is better than a good war.

But what if your conscience is clear and the apology wouldn't make anyone friendly - just the opposite? What if the only result of that apology will be a request for another one?

Questions, questions...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com


Pisa said...

We've spent the better part of 60 something years apologizing to the world - you know, for stuff like the massacre that wasn't in Jenin, the non-shelling of Gaza beach, the starvation that wasn't in Gaza, for not killing the Al-Dura boy, for the not-bombed UN school. Isn't it time we start apologizing for real stuff, like helpfully and publicly showing Egypt and Turkey where to shove it?

To stay on topic, I'd like to apologize for the delay in coming back to haunt your comment section. I've been busy:

Katie said...

Maybe next time the apology should be:

"Oops!  Sorry! Am I bad?"  In their best Valley Girl voice.

Pisa said...

Good idea, but since it's zig-wait-for-the-zagging Bibi and yes-but-not-quite Barak we're talking about, this seems more appropriate:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No more apologies for today, please, Pisa. It has become and addictive habit of ours.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

We probably should think about apology-equipped ammunition for the next time.

Noga said...

"... background of helpless and, frankly, unwilling passivity of Egyptian police"

Don't you mean "willful passivity"??

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Now you got me. Neither fits, so I guess I need to find a replacement.

Pisa said...

I think you missed the point. Check my first e-mail for clues. I'm sure it will hit you like a hurricane ;)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

First e-mail???

Pisa said...

The last then...

Pisa said...

I find the term "unwilling passivity" perfect for the circumstances. I'm sure they were unwilling to watch others have fun with guns and jews and not be able to join the party. Tough. Did we apologize to them yet?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Changed it anyway.

And no, we didn't apologize yet, if the abortive Barak's attempt doesn't count. They are still trying to set up a joint investigation committee.

Dick Stanley said...

Can't really equate Turkey and Egypt, since Israel shares a border with Egypt, but not with Turkey. Makes diplomatic sense to try to placate Eqypt, especially in time of government turmoil there. As for Turkey, shoot, tell them to first apologize for Armenia.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That true, although Turkey as a strategic partner was also quite important - till the Islamists took over.

As for apoligies: I really wouldn't mind, the question is is it worth to apologize when the next Egyptian government could easily tear to pieces that peace agreement?

Dick Stanley said...

Mubarak could have the same at any time. Who would have stopped him?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

US of A, of course. Today the grip of Washington on Egypt's affairs is much weaker.

Besides, Mubarak, while a tyrant, is a military man who knows what war means. The current crop of leaders don't.